Adelaide Fringe 2014
At some point most women question and over-analyse their chosen career, relationship with men and other women, and their path in life. The three actors bravely articulate these fears and despairs, connecting with their audience over a nine-course meal.
The elevated stage is sparsely decorated with empty plates and the background is stark, for this is where the inner voice of women comes to baldly say the things no self-respecting woman would say out loud. The issues these inner voices raise are universal and connect to their audience emotionally and spiritually—there is something comforting yet disconcerting about the truth when it is said out loud.
The three actors take on the personas of nine very different women from all walks of life—the ambitious single woman who wants to change careers and take on a job where she can appreciate the simple things in life; the Gen-N girl who has a fear of missing out and envies her friends who post photos of themselves having a fabulous time overseas; the Gen Y party animal who really wants to stay at home in her pyjamas and watch Friends; the grief-stricken pregnant widow who turns to food for comfort; the power-hungry closet lesbian; the vivacious 30-something singleton; the recently-single depressed teenager; the observant chirpy waitress; and the intrepid, unfulfilled traveller.
The poetry in the monologue softens the blow, but the fact remains that most of us do experience a ‘fear of missing out’ when we see photos on Facebook of friends travelling or going out, that some of us don’t mind being single but have to pretend we’re devastated by this when society pities us. Frankly, I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t prefer staying at home on a Friday or Saturday night in her pyjamas with a good book or uplifting movie to dressing up and going out.
The monologues attempt to connect with a wide range of women and the danger in that is sometimes the audience disconnects with the monologue only to float back in when they hear about a scenario they can relate to. While the samples of food to go with each dialogue are delicious and a charming touch to the production, many of the monologues failed to relate to the morsel and themes of food, which made the meals superfluous. There were times when the dialogues alluded to food or used certain food as analogies and metaphors for the women’s lives, which was interesting and insightful. The director’s notes state that the food element is designed to connect with the characters through the intimacy of dinning; however, this was lost as the stage acted as a barrier and actors were portrayed as exhibits.
The star of this show was the script, which was powerful, vulnerable, honest and enlightening. The poetry in the monologues evoked strong images and emotions—while all three actors were outstanding as the nine different women, Jessica Tanner and Hayley Ricketson (writer, director and cast member) gave the soundest performances in their roles as Gill, Anya, Emily, Briony and Hazel.
The transitions between monologues were smooth and effortless; all of the cast members gave passionate performances and eased into each character with grace. The play could have developed the monologues to connect with food, but the overall subject matter and outstanding performances make this a memorable production.